Nissan BladeGlider Concept Sports Car Rewrites EV Rulebook, Debuts In Toyko

What happens if you take Nissan’s ZEOD plug-in hybrid Le Mans car, add some funky Lamborghini doors, powerful in-wheel electric motors, and seating for you and two close friends?

Answer: Nissan’s latest all-electric concept car, the BladeGlider, which the Japanese automaker will officially unveil at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

Like Nissan’s gasoline-powered Delta Wing and plug-in hybrid ZEOD racing cars, the BladeGlider is deltoid in its design, with a long, narrow front and wide, sweeping rear. But unlike the Delta Wing and ZEOD, the BladeGlider is designed to be a passenger-carrying, road-legal sports car, not an all-out racer.

Heading the BladeGlider project is Nissan’s division general manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning at Nissan, Francois Bancon. “The goal was to revolutionize the architecture of the vehicle to provoke new emotions, provide new value and make visible for consumers how Zero Emissions can help redefine our conception of vehicle basics,” he said in this morning’s official press release from Nissan.

The BladeGlider could be Nissan's first production deltoid EV

The BladeGlider could be Nissan’s first production deltoid EV

This isn’t the first electric sports car Bancon and his team have worked on. Back in 2011, Nissan unveiled the ESFLOW concept coupe, a sleek sports coupe reminiscent  of the iconic 370Z but with an all-electric drivetrain and claimed 150 mile range. As with the BladeGlider, Bancon led the ESFLOW development too.

Unlike the ESFLOW however, Nissan says the BladeGlider has a real chance of entering production, calling it a “proposal for the future direction of Nissan electric vehicle (EV) development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle”

In other words, we could be seeing a slightly tamer version of the BladeGlider enter production in the future, or at least some of its futuristic elements in future models.

But why on earth would anyone want to drive a long, triangular-shaped car?

The answer is simple: aerodynamics, efficiency, and handling.

Nissan says the long, narrow front end and front wheel track width of just one meter gives the BladeGlider an extremely low coefficient of drag. The smaller the coefficient of drag, the less energy required to push the car through the air.  As with any other concept car due to be unveiled, Nissan is sketchy on the specifications at the current time, and that includes any motor and battery pack specifications and sadly, efficiency readings.

What we can tell you at that Nissan’s similarly-shaped Delta Wing race car had a coefficient of drag of 0.35, while the Nissan LEAF hatchback has a coefficient of drag of just 0.28.  While this would suggest that the LEAF’s conventional design rather than the delta-wing shape is more aerodynamic, we suspect the Delta Wing’s Cd figure represents the additional drag created by the car’s substantial spoilers, essential for a car designed to race at nearly 200 mph.  It’s unlikely a production deltoid-shaped car would need quite as much downforce to keep it on the road, so could easily have a much lower coefficient of drag.

Like a glider in the air, Nissan hopes the BladeGlider will cut through the air with the minimum of drag.

Like a glider in the air, Nissan hopes the BladeGlider will cut through the air with the minimum of drag.

With a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) body wrapped around what Nissan calls a “structurally optimised chassis,” the BladeGlider is extremely lightweight, further enhancing energy efficiency. Meanwhile, a 30/70 weight distribution means the majority of the car’s weight — including its battery pack — is centred over the rear of the car. This should give the rear-wheel drive BladeGlider very stable road-handling qualities and extremely lightweight steering, despite its long, narrow front end and long wheelbase.

Inside the cockpit, Nissan says the driver sits in a centrally-mounted seat to give them the best possible view of the road ahead, while two passenger seats — offset to the rear, one either side of the driver — allow two passengers to come along for the ride.

But the thing we really like is the fact that when the time comes to get out, the steering wheel hinges upwards and the drivers’ seat moves to either the right or left side of the car as the driver chooses to facilitate their exit.

We’ll know more about the BladeGlider in coming weeks as we near its Tokyo Motor Show debut, but in the meantime, we’re curious to know if you really believe Nissan will bring a deltoid EV to the market.

Would you want one? Would you drive one? Or do you think this is just another EV that will never get built? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.



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